Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas and the New Year

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Christmas Market with my Mom

Christmas Market with my Mom

My mom gave me a wonderful present this year. On Christmas Eve, she made the kids deep clean the house for me. Not only did I get to stay in my room all day, but they also provided room service.

Flowers from my youngest

Flowers from my youngest

This was one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten. I didn’t have to stress about the house, and I could just enjoy finishing the hand-sewn labradors I was making for the kids. Libby (wearing an apron and often wielding a clipboard) periodically popped into my room to check on me (and to bring me candy).

Charlie inspecting the stockings

Charlie inspecting the stockings

After a long day of work, the house looked great–and the kids were exhausted. But they were in good spirits (it WAS Christmas Eve, after all) and Libby even left a bouquet of flowers, which she had paid for with her own hard-earned money, on my nightstand.

Christmas dinner with friends

Christmas dinner with friends

Christmas morning brought the usual controlled chaos. After walking and feeding the dogs, the kids could unwrap presents while the adults consumed Baileys & coffee and watch the sun rise.

Sweeties

Sweeties

The added blessing was having Grandma Nay here for Christmas. Even though she can drive me up a wall like no other person on earth (isn’t that a mother’s job?) it made the time richer, to have her with us.

Monkey hat

Monkey hat

Loved ones are always in our thoughts this time of year. I can’t help but think often of my Aunt Kathy, who spent two Christmases with us (and an entire month once). She arrived on Christmas Eve one year with her raggedy green knit cap, hiking boots and her beaming smile. 

Having a daughter who LOVES to read makes me proud!!!

Having a daughter who LOVES to read makes me proud!!!

Having epilepsy and short-term memory loss never stopped her. In fact, she was the first to make plans to come visit when we moved to Germany. She lost her fight with cancer 2 1/2 years ago, and Christmas hasn’t been the same since. She is with us in our memories though, and I’m thankful that she had the courage to get on an airplane and stay with us. I pray that we all have such courage as we ‘slide’ into a new year.

A subtle hint for William

A subtle hint for William

Let this be a year for taking heart, or ‘chin up,’ as Kathy would say, and living each moment to the fullest. Life is about relationships, and loving people how they are, even if they don’t fit into the neat little packages you have constructed for them.

Fab Four light up the world

The Fab Four light up the world on New Year’s Eve

Love fully, with flaws and all, because life is as fragile as it is fleeting.

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A Culturally Confusing Christmas

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The Middle East seemed like a perfect place to get away from fake pine trees, creepy santas and even creepier elves during the holidays. I did realize that Bethlehem was where Jesus was born, and that because of all the churches in the holy land, there might be some Christmassy stuff laying around for tourists to pick up.

But I honestly felt by visiting one country that was 75% Jewish, 16% Muslim and 2% Christian (the rest of the people being ambiguous) and another country 90% Sunni, 2% Shia and 8% Christian-ish, the odds were in my favor that I could evade santa and his eight tiny reindeer. Certainly there wouldn’t be any pine trees, tinsel or fake snow!

[insert laugh track here].

Though I sought to escape Christmas, Christmas found me nonetheless–and came back with a vengeance.

Christmas Assault #1: Jerusalem YMCA

During our visit to Jerusalem, we lodged at the YMCA, which having “Christian” in the acronym, is a likely bet for Christmas decor. While the pine tree was no big surprise, I was bemused to see the dining room windows adorned with fake snow.

Fake snow. Note the oranges in the tree outside.

Fake snow. Note the oranges in the tree outside.

YMCA Christmas Tree

YMCA Christmas Tree

Christmas Assault #2: Jaffa Gate Christmas ‘Market’

Perhaps it is unfair to compare any Christmas market in the world with those in Germany, but the market outside the Jaffa Gate blind-sided me with its cheesiness. Blue tarps strung on metal poles, people wearing santa hats, an eight-foot tall inflatable santa, an illuminated ‘tree’ AND to completely bombard our senses, American Christmas music. (I haven’t heard Silent Night by Annie Lennox in a LONG time!)

Jaffa Gate Market

Jaffa Gate Market

 Christmas Assault #3: Movenpick Hotel, Petra, Jordan

Becoming emotionally stable again after my traumatic experience at the Jaffa Gate market, I sought refuge in the least likely of places to honor Christmas with a fake pine tree: the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

While sipping my hibiscus juice during check-in at the Movenpick hotel at Petra, I noticed in the foyer, amongst the potted palms, a huge Christmas tree. At first I thought our journey along the winding desert road had parched my brain and I was hallucinating. But alas, it was a real, fake tree. Thus realizing Christmas was out to get me, I forced the kids to pose for another picture.

Oh! Christmas tree! In the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

Oh! Christmas tree! In the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The Final Christmas Assault: U Coral Beach Club, Eilat

Not only did Christmas follow me from Wadi Musa to Eilat, but it twisted my arm behind my back until I fell to my knees, crying ‘Shalom!’ and wishing for the peace and harmony of a Christmas Eve sale at Wal-Mart.

Since my teenage son alone can eat his weight in falafel, staying at an all-inclusive resort seemed like a good idea for the nine of us. Little did I know that all-inclusive meant ‘family-friendly,’ which translated means ‘frenetic activities for kids and an open bar for parents.’

We were bombarded with fake trees, stuffed santas poking their creepy faces out from everywhere, a steady stream of Christmas music, tinsel, and we saw hotel staffers dressed as sleeping children and flanking the hall on our way into the breakfast room, a guy in plaid boxers with suspenders and a santa hat, inviting our kids to a trivia game, dance parties every night and, the coup d’état, Israeli children having milk and cookies while waiting for a Brazilian santa, who would be driving up on a Harley.

The stage is set for santa at the U Coral Beach Club.

The stage is set for santa at the U Coral Beach Club.

It was cheesy. It was gaudy. As my friend said, it was ‘garish.’ And yet, this is where we spent our ‘Silent Night.’ Despite it all, I DID manage it with a laugh, and a little Irish Cream added to my coffee.

*Editor’s note: In all fairness, the staffers were genuinely concerned with having fun and involving kids in activities. They were wonderful in their sincerity and very helpful and welcoming.

The Real Christmas

On Christmas Eve, the few items we had purchased for the kids were tucked away, and we decided to place them inside the kids’ adventure hats. We didn’t tell them, and I don’t think the kids expected to get anything at all, since we had told them the trip was the present. Honestly, my friend and I felt excited, figuring out how to sneak the presents into the hats, and when and where to place them around the hotel room. It was the most regret-free fun I’ve ever had on Christmas Eve.

Opening presents

Opening presents

Christmas morning, the girls and I awoke (the boys were in another room with their dad), and I gave each of them a ‘Christmas’ can of Coke, which is a special treat (especially at 6:00 am). I also had forgotten that I had some fake Nabatean coins in my purse that I’d picked up in Petra, and so, I handed those out to the girls as their Christmas presents. I got out my bible, and we read some and talked about Christmas and what it has to do (or does not have to do) with the birth of Jesus Christ.

Before we knew it, it was time for our ‘real’ Christmas to begin. My friend and I set up the adventure hats in her room and then had the kids go in, find their hats, and uncover their gifts. They were SO happy that they weren’t just getting fake Nabatean coins! Even though the presents they got could fit into their carry-ons, the kids were just as happy as any other Christmas. As Katie put it, “The best Christmas is the one you’re having right now!”

Christmas Surprise!

Christmas Surprise!

I don’t know if we will embark on another Christmas adventure (the words Scuba Diving and Indian Ocean keep coming to mind), but I do know that despite West meeting East in a big, loud way this year, it was the most memorable Christmas the Wellman family has had thus far. 

Shalom!

May God bless you with peace in the new year!

Potter’s Field

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“If it hadn’t been for me, you would all be living in shacks in Potter’s Field!”

That’s what I might say when the stress of real life returned after Christmas break, and people started taking me for granted again.

Of course, I’m no George Bailey.

Though I question the doctrinal validity of Joseph and God blinking like stars in the sky when they talk and bells signaling angelic promotion, Capra’s classic film still causes me to ponder what the world would have been like without me.

I’m not fishing for compliments or penning myself as some kind of saint, but I am pretty sure if not for me, Mike would still be an arctic bachelor, and some happy couple would be the fortunate custodians of four phenomenal kids.

If it hadn’t been for me…

Some of you would have missed out on a few laughs, while others may not have shed quite so many tears.

Some of you wouldn’t have had a Louise to go with your Thelma or an Ethel for your Lucy (depending on which stage of life you found me).

Some of you may not have been encouraged, or hugged, or loved quite so much. Others would have one less adventure, one less story to reminisce about.

Some of you would have imbibed less coffee.

There would be fewer quips, fewer quotes, fewer inside jokes. And maybe there would be an empty spot in your life where a precious friendship should have been.

I’m not perfect—I’m not even good. In fact, if my inner self could be posted on Facebook for thirty seconds, everyone would unfriend me, including my grandma.

But life isn’t all about me.

I can’t help but think what life would have been like without some of you. Sure, there are some people I wish I’d never met (the string of bad boyfriends in the early 90s), but I would be a completely different person now if any single character had not been written into the script.

Without my dad, I’d have no courage, no independence.

Without my mama, no inspiration.

Without my husband, no real love.

Without my mother, no imagination.

Without my grandparents, no role models.

Without my aunties, no feeling of specialness.

Without my friends, no sisterhood.

Without God, no hope.

There are many stories I could tell about individuals who have had an impact on my life, but even a really good screenplay couldn’t capture it all.

Whether we have been center stage together, or whether you raised the curtain,  lit the lights, played the music, whispered a line, set the props, gave me direction, or simply crossed downstage, every single one of you has played an invaluable role in my wonderful life.

Merry Christmas. God bless. I love you.